19 April 2011

My mission is now over and I write this from London, UK, where I’ve been fortunate enough to get a free bed and room as my old friend’s flat-mate is on holiday.  She returns tomorrow and I’m relegated back to the floor.  It’s been great to catch up on sleep, although I can’t shift the habit of waking up for every sound, my mind still hasn’t switched off.

After my first mission, I was reluctant to blog about the mental readjustments I went though following what people call reverse-culture-shock.  I was nervous that it would make me sound like I had mental health issues.  But since then, I’ve realised (partly thanks to the book by fellow blogger James Maskalyk: “Six Months in Sudan”) that most of us MSFers go though something similar.  Having longed for McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, long lie ins and an absence of the stress of “the field”, after a few days I realise that I am a stranger in what used to be home.  Partying with old friends feels shallow and excessive when I look at the bar bill.  My mind wanders as people talk about things that I consider trivialities.  People don’t understand what I’ve been doing: “did you have a good holiday?”, “let me get this round, I know you’ve been travelling”, “yeah, I wish I had done that after university” – not really grasping that what I do is actually a skilled profession, not a gap year.

So I’m back early, I cut my 12 month contract short to 9 months.  Nigeria is tiring, the context is frustrating, the needs close to infinite.  And I felt exhausted.  And then, back in London, I’m already wishing I was in Libya helping where the need is massive.  But I should rest.  And I will.  And after some time, I’ll do it all again.  Thanks for reading my story.